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How to best prepare for NaNoWriMo 2020: Write a Novel in a Month

National novel writing month is just around the corner and with it, we’re going to see a torrent of new writers wanting to get the first draft of their book written.

As I’ve been writing for quite a number of years now, I thought I would share some advice and tips on how to write a book in 30 days by preparing yourself in October.

October is THE month you want to start getting everything in order, such as your outlines, your notes and such so that on the 1st November you can… well… begin writing rather than procrastinating about writing.

Let’s get started.

Tip #1: Schedule ahead of time

Scheduling your time during November is a critical part of whether or not you will succeed in your Nanowrimo goals.

The typical schedule for a lot of newer people coming into this is created typically by dividing the 50,000 word count goal over the 30 days to get 1666 words per day.

This isn’t realistic for a lot of people – so I suggest to you to find a schedule that works for you.

For example; if you’ve got work during the day or even childcare, why not opt for short writing sprints so that you can get bursts of writing done in between what you have to do already?

If you do have a freer schedule, set a specific time every day, or several times, where all you will do is your writing and focus on nothing else – treat it like work and don’t care about the quality. Get those words on the page.

If you hate to think about word counts, set specific goals like today, you’ll do Chapter Five and will edit the last scene of Chapter Four – this way you’ll also get concrete goals that may not scare you as much.

Tip #2: Create an outline for your book

It doesn’t matter if you’re planning on creating a super-comprehensive outline with all of the plot points and key story moments mapped out OR you’re planning on writing by the skin of your teeth – create an outline!

Even a basic outline will give you a structure to follow that will give you some guidance when you hit those inevitable moments where you’re not sure about what to write – to put you back on course as it were.

And don’t worry about changing your mind during the process either. The outline is just an outline and nothing is set in stone.

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Tip #3: Start research in October

Use October to get yourself organized. Do the research that you need to do before November.

Writing an epic fantasy tale that delves into mythology? Research the cultural elements of that mythology, the mythical beasts and deities and how it affected the every day lives of people who held beliefs in those cultures.

If you inform yourself as a writer about what is already out there, you’ll be able to create narratives that are more authentic to your voice and more respectful of the source material you are inspired by.

Tip #4: Complete other tasks now

Also, use October to get the tasks that may eat into your writing time. Need to get the garden mowed? Build that garden shed? Fix the bathroom tiles?

If you get it done now, you’ll have completed a potential time-sinking task, as well as making sure your schedule is naturally freer during November so you can focus on getting that book finished in 30 days… well, the first draft anyway.

Tip #5: Create a minimal workspace

Get rid of the clutter in the area where you are planning on doing the majority of your writing. Make sure you just have the bare essentials and fewer distractions.

It has been scientifically proven that if you have a designated workspace that is clean and free from clutter than you’ll end up being more productive as well as happier to work in that space.

Writing can often be a lonely profession – so why not treat yourself to a little happiness?

Tip #6: Write character profiles

During October, create profiles of the characters you are starting to think of now. This includes your protagonist, antagonist, supporting characters, and more.

If you know your character’s motivations, desires, flaws, needs and obstacles, you’ll be less likely to hit writing blocks because you are more informed on how your character would act in a given situation, helping you to drive the narrative forward in a meaningful way.

At the end of the day, your readers will experience the story through the characters – you’re characters need to be three-dimensional and engaging. Character profiles help you achieve this.

Oh, and as a bonus tip, write location profiles too. Know the areas, spaces, and landscapes your characters will traverse. It’ll get your mind working and will allow you to generate other ideas.

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Tip #7: Identify the key themes and ideas

Are you trying to say something political? Are you trying to comment on medieval faith? What about gender inequality in a futuristic society?

Use the time before November to start thinking about the key themes and ideas you want to explore in your book. Make notes and do some research on what has been done before and how you could do it in an original way.

Tip #8: Create personal goals

Similar to when scheduling your time. Set personal goals for yourself during Nanowrimo that fit with your personality and work ethic.

Feel guilty about going out with friends on the weekend? Don’t.

Instead, get up an hour earlier that morning, finish the chapter or word count target you set yourself, and treat yourself with that night out with friends.

Writing is a wonderful experience and it shouldn’t create any feelings of shame or guilt – make it positive and it will be positive to you.

Tip #9: Get excited!

Seriously, if you’re passionate about writing a book in a month during Nanowrimo then show it!

Share your decision with friends and family. It’ll help you stick to your goals and will give you the motivation to continue with the writing.

And don’t care about failure either. If you don’t manage the 50,000-word count target of Nanowrimo, no stress. Do you know why? You’ve taken a huge step towards getting your book finished and that’s a success in every sense of the word.

Just think about the thousands of people who aren’t joining in.

Bonus tip: Use the Nanowrimo community

Nanowrimo has many amazing resources and links to check out that will help you.

I suggest to find your regional Nanowrimo group and join it. They will offer support when needed before and during the month-long event. Some will speak online. Some will meet in person to talk about writing and their goals during November.

The biggest bonus of all for me – it’ll help to create accountability for seeing it through.

To Summarise:

  • Schedule ahead of time
  • Create an outline
  • Start researching in October
  • Complete other tasks that might get in the way
  • Write character and location profiles
  • Identify key themes and ideas
  • Create personal goals
  • Share your goals with friends and family
  • Join your regional NaNoWriMo group

This might all seem simple, but that’s because it really is at the end of the day.

Follow these steps, enjoy the writing process, and share in the success that many writers have every single year.

I hope this post has helped you today to start getting prepared for NaNoWriMo 2020.

Check out my other articles and video playlists focused on sharing advice on writing concepts and techniques, telling better stories, and roleplaying!

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